New Jersey approved nearly $41.7 million in state subsidies under its popular film, television and digital media production tax break program, and nearly $100,000 for a low-interest loan program for startups in the Garden State.
The tranche of eight different awards came amid a marathon of state subsidies and other relief programs and economic proposals heard Feb. 9 by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority at its first board meeting of 2022.
Gov. Phil Murphy first enacted the media incentive program in 2018 after it went offline several years earlier. It compensates production companies via tax incentives for the costs of filming here, hiring workers in-state and buying New Jersey-made goods and services.
The program has since been expanded several times over the past three and a half years. Most recently, that included several benefits for film studios operating in New Jersey.
Many production companies have cited the tax credit program as a significant factor in their decision to pick New Jersey, in addition to both its proximity – and being a cheaper alternative to – New York City, and the diversity of urban, rural and scenic landscapes the state offers.
‘A brand new industry’
“New Jersey was originally the home of the film and TV business, but certainly California took that advantage,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said in his opening remarks at Wednesday’s meeting. “This has been a really important part of the governor’s economic diversification strategy to grow basically a brand new industry.”
The biggest award clocks in at $24.1 million, to Wonderlanded Production Services for its filming last summer in Deerfield of “Wonderlanded,” a 1990’s take on the Lewis Carroll novel “Alice in Wonderland.”
An $8 million tax break award was approved for the production of “The Bros Movie,” which focuses on two men trying at a romantic relationship and is being filmed in Kearny through this May.
The NJEDA also approved $4.6 million to AT Productions for its movie “Armageddon Time” – an autobiographical coming-of-age drama set in Queens, N.Y. during the Reagan administration and starring Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong. Filming ran from October to December last year in Bayonne.
There was a $2.18 million award for the season three production of “Food that Built America,” which was shot last year in Little Falls, and $2.13 million to Universal Television for its production of the crime drama series “FBI: Most Wanted.” It’s being directed by the Emmy-winning Dick Wolf, known for his work on the “Law & Order” franchise.
Another $526,666 was awarded to The Furies Film for its filming in Atlantic City of the horror film “A Wounded Fawn.”
So far, nearly 50 projects have been approved under the program, like Netflix’s “Army of the Dead,” HBO’s “The Many Saints of Newark,” Steven Spielberg’s remark of “West Side Story,” and the Academy Award-winning “Joker.”
Start me up
Meanwhile, $99,970 of loans were approved for the NJ Accelerate program, under which the state partners with accelerators–fixed-term classes of startups that have access to facilities, educational opportunities and mentorship. Participants are expected to finalize their product pitch by the time they finish the program.
One 10-year loan approved on Wednesday came in at $49,970 for Arke Aeronautics, which will be based in Mount Laurel in South Jersey. The company is developing public safety and first responder software.
The second approved loan came in at $50,000 over 10 years for startup envoyatHome, which will be based in Camden County and develops software for independent senior living.
Startups that move to participating accelerators can get six months of rent covered, and matching loans of up to $250,000 each from the NJEDA and the accelerators, if they set up shop in New Jersey within six months of finishing the program.
The NJEDA said both companies that received awards on Feb. 9 took part in the Launch Lane accelerator in Philadelphia.
Another feature of NJ Accelerate calls for the state to sponsor accelerator events in New Jersey, from any such business around the country, with the NJEDA matching that business dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000 per event and $100,000 per accelerator.
The most prominent accelerator moving to New Jersey is Princeton-based SOSV’s $50 million HAX accelerator coming to Newark. The 60,000-square-foot space will open next year to attract 100 startups, which each have to create 2,500 jobs over the next five years. Half of the costs of the office space will be footed by the NJEDA.
Editor’s note: The headline on this story was updated from “NJ approves $1.7M for film, TV incentives; $100K in startup subsidies,” which was incorrect, to “NJ approves $41.7M for film, TV incentives; $100K in startup subsidies,” at 3:30 p.m. EST on Feb. 9, 2022.